By ASHLEY E. ORGAN, Assistant Editor In Houston, we consider temperatures below the 60s freezing. Since it has finally cooled down here, it is probably safe to assume that the rest of the US is experiencing winter weather as well. This year, the American Gas Association has provided 10 “Burner Tips” to help keep utilities users safe, warm, and energy efficient: 1. Install a programmable thermostat to help ensure that you do not forget to adjust the temperature in your home throughout the day. Regulating your thermostat can amount to real savings while keeping you warm during the winter months. 2. Fall is a good time to seal any gaps in your attic. Cold air sneaking in through the attic can be a drain on energy and your wallet. 3. When replacing appliances around your home, remember to ask about natural gas models. Natural gas water heaters and other appliances are typically much more efficient than other versions and will help cut energy costs during the winter heating season. 4. Make sure to have all furnaces, flues, and chimneys in your home or business inspected every year by qualified industry professionals to ensure their efficiency and safety. These are items that will no doubt be kicked into gear during the cold winter months, so it is important they all are in working order when the temperatures drop. 5. Install one-way heat exchangers on your kitchen fan, clothes dryer, and bathroom fan vents to prevent cold air from leaking in and warm air leaking out. 6. Keep the areas around all natural gas appliances clean and unblocked to allow for proper air flow. 7. Do not forget to insulate your attic floor. In temperate climates, 16 to 24 in. of insulation is not excessive. This simple home improvement will keep you warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. 8. Look for the blue flame. If pilot lights and burners have a steady, blue flame, they are operating correctly. (Decorative gas fire logs are the only exception. Their flame usually is yellow.) 9. Anytime you make changes to your home, from servicing a fuel-burning appliance to changing your windows, always have a licensed expert make sure that all your equipment is operating properly. Safety is important all year round. 10. Always use your nose. If you ever smell natural gas, leave the premises, contact your natural gas utility, and dial 911.